Which carving knife is best?
Carving knives have a long history of providing an easy way to slice through meat so that kings and queens could eat like royalty. You and your loved ones should be no different.
Carving meat at the holidays or other special occasions can make the meal go smoothly or cause unnecessary delays without the right carving knife. Carving knives differ from traditional chef’s knives by having longer, thinner blades that cut through meat evenly. The blade tip is pointed to help cut around bone and cartilage. Carving knives may not be used as often as other knives, but when the occasion calls for them, they can make a big difference in not only cutting meat, but the overall presentation. For high quality from a well-known German manufacturer, the top choice is the Wüsthof Classic Carving Knife.
What to know before you buy a carving knife
Standard or electric
Carving knives are available in standard, arm-powered styles, as well as models powered by electricity. Electric carving knives are better for people with arthritis or other conditions that make gripping the knife, and exerting force upon it, painful.
Even though they are easier to use, electric knives don’t deliver the best cut. A standard carving knife cuts more precisely and won’t tear apart the meat. If you don’t have a physical limitation to using a standard carving knife, it is probably your best bet for overall results and personal satisfaction.
Forged or stamped
The blades on carving knives are either stamped or forged. Forged blades are made from molten steel that’s poured into a mold. Forged blades are stronger and will bend easier without breaking. Stamped blades are made from the same steel, but since they are cut from a long sheet of metal, they are not as strong as forged blades. Stamped blades tend to be less expensive though.
Even though most carving knives are made from steel, there are varying levels of hardness based on how much carbon is in the steel. Higher carbon levels mean a harder blade, but it also means the blade will need sharpening more often. Knives are rated on the Rockwell scale for hardness. Most carving knives rate around 56 with those in the low 50’s having less carbon in the steel, and those rating in the upper 50’s to low 60’s having more carbon.
What to look for in a quality carving knife
A carving knife’s tang is the piece of metal that extends into the handle. Partial-tang carving knives have the metal inserted into the handle, while full-tang carving knives have the metal reaching the entire length of the knife. Full-tang carving knives are sturdier as a result and can hold up under more pressure. Sometimes the full tang is hidden by the handle design, while some carving knives show the full tang.
Carving knife handles are made from many different materials including wood, steel, polymer, plastic and other composites. What is most important is to find a handle that is easy to grip and won’t slip unexpectedly. Many handles have an ergonomic design to fit the shape of the hand for better grip. Look for models that also include a finger guard for extra protection against injury if the knife slips.
The size of the meat or roast that you are cutting necessitates the size of the carving knife you need. Most carving knives are 8 to 14 inches long with the longer sizes used for turkey, ham or brisket, while shorter lengths are used for chicken and roasts. The rule of thumb is to make sure that your knife is as long as the meat itself so you don’t have to saw back and forth. Be careful if the knife is longer than the meat to avoid injuries.
How much you can expect to spend on a carving knife
Carving knives with partial tangs start around $20-$30, while those with full tangs and riveted handles cost between $30-$50. The highest end carving knives with treated steel and ergonomic handles begin at $50 but can cost a lot more.
Carving knife FAQ
How do I know if my carving knife needs sharpened?
A. A tomato will tell you all you need to know. Use your carving knife to slice a tomato. If the tomato slices cleanly, your knife is still sharp enough for meat. If the tomato squirts and is easily crushed, it is time to sharpen the carving knife.
Should I get a carving knife with a serrated edge?
A. A serrated edge is not recommended for a carving knife because it is likely to tear meat instead of cleanly slice it. Smooth blades are preferred for carving knives. Some electric carving knives have serrated edges. This may be a quicker cut, but it won’t be a precise or clean cut.
What’s the best carving knife to buy?
Top carving knife
What you need to know: This high-quality carving knife from a long-trusted brand is forged from a single blank of high carbon stainless steel.
What you’ll love: With a full tang that is triple riveted to a durable polyoxymethylene handle, this carving knife has a blade that is extra sharp with double the edge retention. It offers a full bolster and finger guard.
What you should consider: This carving knife is expensive compared to other similar knives, and it requires hand washing.
Top carving knife for the money
What you need to know: This carving knife has the features of high-end carving knives at a fraction of the price.
What you’ll love: The blade is forged from German steel with a full tang that runs into a santoprene handle for a safer and more comfortable grip. A taper-ground edge adds stability and aids cutting. This carving knife is rust-resistant and won’t discolor.
What you should consider: It requires washing by hand, and the handle only has one rivet.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: Made in Switzerland from high quality steel, this carving knife is ideal for cutting large portions of meat.
What you’ll love: The Granton blade design keeps food from sticking to the blade. The patented non-slip Fibrox handle is not only sturdy, but it is designed to reduce wrist fatigue. Approved by the NSF, this carving knife is dishwasher-safe.
What you should consider: A protective sheath is not included. It is difficult to cut smaller meats with this carving knife.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Steve Ganger writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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